Chattanooga Times/September 29, 1936
Dorothy Thompson Analyses His Insulting Claims One by One—
Is Nazi Germany Really as Prosperous as Hitler Claims?
I have waited to comment on Hitler’s proclamation at the Nuremberg Party congress until the German newspapers should reach here and I would have an official German text before me. Now the papers are here, and the text baffles the imagination. I doubt if ever a speech was made in history insulting to a larger number of nations, and insulting to ordinary intelligence as well. The speech contains a long hat of the specific claims of the German dictatorship. Were these claims tenable, Mr. Hitler would stand as the greatest miracle man in history, and a most powerful argument would be made for dictatorship everywhere. Inside Germany not one of them will be challenged in any newspaper or any platform or in any publication. Outside Germany it is more difficult to contest them, because all the facts are not known. But they ought to be analyzed on the basis of what is known because the people of the democratic world have been treated to very misleading propaganda.
Mr. Hitler’s insults to Russia are one thing. They are sui generis. As Sir Austin Chamberlain—who will not be accused of pro-Soviet tendencies—remarked, “It will be difficult to find a parallel for such a gross attack by the rulers of one country upon the government of another.” But these remarks were given wide notice here and need not be gone into. What was not so generally noted was that Mr. Hitler did not confine his caustic comments to Russia. He embraced in his disdain all the nations of Europe “with the exception of one great power (Italy) and a few other countries.” “Everywhere else” he said, “we see the spasms of Bolshevist revolution.”
That “everywhere else” is an insult to every democratic country in Europe, including the “great power” of England, which with democratic institutions is enjoying unparalleled prosperity and social unity. Bolshevism looms as an immediate threat only in Spain, where German intervention has increased its menace; in France there is social disorder precipitated by the fear of German Fascism and by the persisted-in deflation. But it is still a long cry from Bolshevism.
The many claims which the Nazi Government makes for the support of its people and the admiration of the rest of the world display Germany under dictatorship as a modern Eden. Unemployment has been reduced from 6,000,000 to 1,000,000. The dispossession of German peasants has ended and the agricultural income is higher than in any previous year of peace; trade has increased; the German port towns are lively with shipbuilding: many factories have doubled, tripled and quadrupled their workers; automobile factories are increasing tremendously, and motor cars will increase from 45,000 in 1932 to 250,000 this year; the deficit of States and cities has been removed; the Reich has an increased tax revenue of $5,000,000,000; the German Reich has roads unequaled anywhere in the world. These are the high points of the Fuehrer’s clams.
What is there in them?
- The International Labor office recently reported that German citizens had been removed from the unemployment rolls in the following manner: By absorption in increased business largely due to the immense armament program which is busy manufacturing goods of no use to Germans except to fight with; by spreading work in the factories, whereby more people work, but for less average weekly wage; by increasing the army eightfold and introducing universal compulsory two-year military training; by removing women from industry; by work camps, which demand compulsory service of all young men for a stated period; by the forced emigration of over 60,000 Jews.
- The peasants have been saved from foreclosure by completely limiting their ownership rights; no peasant may raise credit on his land, mortgage it, or sell it. Nor may he sell his products to anyone except government agencies at fixed prices, and he must deliver fixed quotas. Agriculture enjoys a monopoly of the domestic market at the cost of high food prices and definite shortage to the urban consumer.
- Trade has been restored to almost the position which it occupied when Mr. Hitler came into power at the bottom of the depression. Today trade is on the increase everywhere in the world. German trade under the Republic surpassed the figure of 1913.
- Ships are being built and the Government is paying heavy deficits for their building. The whole Merchant Marine has been socialized and the amount of the deficit is kept secret.
- Production is enforced by government order, many factories being compelled to undertake reorganization at a loss. Armament orders are making others prosperous.
- In the Democratic country of England which Hitler referred to disdainfully under his blanket indictment, the number of automobiles has increased from 223,000 in 1931 to 348,000 in 1934. Last year Germany had less than half as many autos as England, in spite of the fact that autos in Germany are exempted from taxation because their widespread ownership is desired for military purposes and in spite of the fact that there has been a vast increase of party and army orders for motor cars. There are more automobiles in Democratic France with less than two-thirds of Germany’s population.
- The deficits of states and cities have been taken over by the Federal Government and thus “removed.” Debts owed to foreign creditors have been “frozen.”
- The Reich certainly has an increased tax revenue. The income tax begins at wage or salary of 900 marks ($225) a year, on which a flat 10 per cent is paid. With compulsory party contributions and the compulsory social insurances, the total taxes are 30 percent of such an income.
- The great housing program which Hitler points to with pride has not proceeded faster than under the great building days of the Republic. Democratic England has rehoused 50 percent of her entire population since 1918; Holland and Sweden are almost completely rebuilt. All without dictatorship.
M. Hitler also made some grandiose claims for the renaissance of German culture. About that it is more difficult to judge. But so far not a single novel or play or international recognition has emerged from Nazi Germany.
But there is one claim that cannot he denied. “There is not a Socialist, a Communist, a Center party or a bourgeois party member left in Germany.” That claim cannot be disputed. And one item Mr. Hitler failed to mention. He did not claim to have balanced the budget, although he might have made the claim and no one could have contradicted it. No budget has been published since he came into power. What the national debt is nobody knows. And if anyone did, he would be sent to prison for publishing it, I suppose, under the law of “divulging information damaging to the interests of our nation.”